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What with all of the talk these days about pianos as investments, I smiled this weekend when, in the course of moving, I ran across the sales receipt for a Yamaha C3 that I bought back in 1984 (Thanks again, Joy!). The piano has been played at least an hour a day since then, well cared for, and is still in the family. If we put it on Craigslist today the price would be the same as what I paid 35 years ago, and I think I'd get it.

iLaw.
Good point, iLaw. We may not think of our pianos as a monetary investment, per-se, but we do think of them in terms of value. Sounds like you got a very good value in your Yamaha C3.

I didn't buy my Yamaha C7 new (no way I could afford that), but I figure I could sell it today for more than I paid for it, plus all the years of enjoyment.

Piano "appreciation" can mean more than just a monetary investment.

All the best,

Rick
Rickster +1. The real appreciation is the enjoyment! Reminds me of the old joke. How do you make a million dollars selling pianos? Buy a 3 million dollar piano business and wait 2 years. Your business is now worth about a million 😁.
The YAMAHA UX I bought in 1977 for $1942.00 - when I looked at trading it on a grand in 2009 (ie 32 years), I was told it was worth "about $2800, maybe $3000". And it had worked hard, 3 children learned on it, I did a diploma, preparation for Church services weekly and accompanying the children's other instruments - as well as playing for pleasure. It was quite worn after that.

I didn't trade it - I gave it to our daughter.

As a fiscal investment - no, it's not a investment in real terms - if I'd invested the $1942 in the financial market it would (hopefully) have appreciated significantly.
If you wait two or three decades any decent piano that has been reasonably well taken care of will be worth the same or more than the original selling price.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
... decent piano that has been reasonably well taken care of will be worth the same or more than the original selling price.


That's a valid point - I know some cheaper earlier Korean or Chinese pianos where that didn't happen - they were relatively worthless after 20 years.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If you wait two or three decades any decent piano that has been reasonably well taken care of will be worth the same or more than the original selling price.


That's only if you assume new prices will continue to rise forever.
In my financial planning, I consider my piano capital equipment expenditure. Unfortunately I’m not playing gigs so it’s really sunk costs.
Wouldn’t it be a piano aficionados dream if you could buy a high end piano instead of a 401k? “But darling, I know it’s over a 100k but it’s an investment and we could triple our money in 20 years! When we sell it, we’ll be rich!
Originally Posted by backto_study_piano
The YAMAHA UX I bought in 1977 for $1942.00 - when I looked at trading it on a grand in 2009 (ie 32 years), I was told it was worth "about $2800, maybe $3000".

In this case the dollar inflation rate must be considered. Because the real-world value of $1 in 1977 and in 2009 was different.

http://www.in2013dollars.com/1977-dollars-in-2009?amount=1942

$1,942 in 1977 is equivalent in purchasing power to $6,875.10 in 2009

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If you wait two or three decades any decent piano that has been reasonably well taken care of will be worth the same or more than the original selling price.

In 21st century the dollar inflation rate is much lower.
$10,000 in 1999 is equivalent in purchasing power to $15,108.76 in 2019
$10,000 in 2009 is equivalent in purchasing power to $11,732.80 in 2019
Depends on what you are buying. Homes in my neighborhood are going for maybe 6 times what they went for when we bought our house in 1995, even after the additional depreciation that accrued in that period.
Originally Posted by jarobi
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
If you wait two or three decades any decent piano that has been reasonably well taken care of will be worth the same or more than the original selling price.


That's only if you assume new prices will continue to rise forever.
Which is a totally reasonable assumption.
Originally Posted by iLaw
What with all of the talk these days about pianos as investments, I smiled this weekend when, in the course of moving, I ran across the sales receipt for a Yamaha C3 that I bought back in 1984 (Thanks again, Joy!). The piano has been played at least an hour a day since then, well cared for, and is still in the family. If we put it on Craigslist today the price would be the same as what I paid 35 years ago, and I think I'd get it.

iLaw.


I'm currently shopping for used pianos and looking at C3s and other comparable models. So I'm just starting to understand pricing.

In 1985 a new C3 sold for what? somewhere in the ballpark of $10,000?
Today a new C3 that is essentially the same instrument sells for what? $30-35,000?

So a 30 year old instrument sells for about 30% of the price of a new one? That sounds about right. New instruments have just gone up so much in price that older used ones haven't depreciated much on paper.

The real question is whether the same price trends will continue in the future for new instruments. I don't know much about piano manufacture. But I do know a lot of about the bike industry and what Chinese manufacturing has done to bike prices and bike components over the past few decades. And it has been a game changer. Aside from high-end niche products, most bikes these days are made in the same few Taiwanese and Chinese factories to spec for the different manufacturers. New bikes these days can be had for comparable prices to what one might have paid in the 90s for a similar quality bike. Piano industry seems to be going in the same direction with Chinese manufacture. Are you really sure that new pianos will cost 3x more than today in 30 years? Will people really be paying $100,000 for a C3 or equivalent? Or $400,000 for a Steinway? I have my doubts.
Originally Posted by texasdiver
[...] Are you really sure that new pianos will cost 3x more than today in 30 years? Will people really be paying $100,000 for a C3 or equivalent? Or $400,000 for a Steinway? I have my doubts.


Historical prices of Steinway pianos

In 1990 a Steinway "B" listed for $34,600.00. Do you think people then even imagined that in 30 years the price would have increased by more than three times to today's list price of $112,000.00? In another 30 years will we be paying three times today's price? I am not sure that I have many doubts, unless the world-wide economy collapses.

Regards,
[/quote]I'm currently shopping for used pianos and looking at C3s and other comparable models. So I'm just starting to understand pricing.

In 1985 a new C3 sold for what? somewhere in the ballpark of $10,000?
Today a new C3 that is essentially the same instrument sells for what? $30-35,000? ...

Will people really be paying $100,000 for a C3 or equivalent? Or $400,000 for a Steinway? I have my doubts.[/quote]

Yes, it's likely - but wages, house prices, cars etc will have gone up roughly proportionally. In 1977 - I'd have not dreamed that in 2019 a UX equivalent would be $19,000, nor the average car $40,000, or home $½million.
From my limited experience, new piano prices almost always increase. The increase depends on the local and global economies. And exchange rates are still a big factor. In recessionary times the used piano market is flooded. Sadly, that’s the time you can pick up an upper tier piano so somebody can keep the house. In a recession dealer sales are mostly small uprights or cheap digitals. Additionally the piano market seems to follow the housing market and the quick home equity loans.
Jeepers Kreepers! I can’t even imagine taking out a home equity loan for an instrument! My family would lock me up and throw away the key! Especially a piano! Kurt Cobain’s guitar maybe, but a piano?🤣
Those spectacular rises in piano prices as in many other commodities indicates to me that the real thing is the value of the dollar going down down down. Remember 2009 when the us government throw into the monetary system 400.000 millions trying to reactivate the economy. And in the eu they have doing the same. They are not doing corralito like in Argentina in 2000. They are more subtle. You can keep your money. They just turned it into nothing
In contrast, the digital piano market, from what I've observed has moved the opposite way - quality has improved markedly since I first saw a digital piano, and similar money will buy an appreciably better machine - and the "cheaper quality" digitals are appreciably cheaper than in the mid-'80s when I first groaned when I played one. But - most parts are assembled by robots like a TV or microwave oven - with possibly some human checking or adjustment of regulation of the better quality ones.

But that goes for electronic goods in general - my first Microwave was $550 in 1982 (both figures approx). Today, I've seen them for <$65 - and over twice as powerful. Mum's first vacuum cleaner in 1959 - they saved up for months to buy it - today they're petty cash.

But a real piano - I think it was Steinway who quoted 12,000 parts at one stage in a Grand Piano - will always have ~12,000 parts. Some are now partly mass produced with robots, but there is a lot of human assembly and adjustment lines in the factories which make them expensive to make - with labour costs increasing continually.

YouTube from a few years ago about making a YAMAHA:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=51&v=OeMab58WDF4
That's better than you would do on a car. grin grin
Interesting, thank you !
Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by texasdiver
[...] Are you really sure that new pianos will cost 3x more than today in 30 years? Will people really be paying $100,000 for a C3 or equivalent? Or $400,000 for a Steinway? I have my doubts.


Historical prices of Steinway pianos

In 1990 a Steinway "B" listed for $34,600.00. Do you think people then even imagined that in 30 years the price would have increased by more than three times to today's list price of $112,000.00? In another 30 years will we be paying three times today's price? I am not sure that I have many doubts, unless the world-wide economy collapses.

Regards,

We bought our Sauter upright not expecting to make anything on the
price we paid .But then I really think most Canadians do not know much about pianos anyway .Sauter like Estonia would be like talking about a unicorn .
I have found from music pupils names like Yamaha, Kawai ,Steinway and then Weber ,Winter and then better known Canadian makes like Heintzman and Bell (stencil now?)
Serious music students and teachers seem to be the only ones attracted to American or European pianos .
Yet looking on Craigslist I sometimes to see American or German pianos .At the moment a 1934 Feurich grand is available!
Our Sauter is purely for our enjoyment in our retirement years .
Originally Posted by Snail
Those spectacular rises in piano prices as in many other commodities indicates to me that the real thing is the value of the dollar going down down down. Remember 2009 when the us government throw into the monetary system 400.000 millions trying to reactivate the economy. And in the eu they have doing the same. They are not doing corralito like in Argentina in 2000. They are more subtle. You can keep your money. They just turned it into nothing


Yup, that's the problem with fiat money. It's kinda like a cartoon character who runs way off past the edge of a cliff, but doesn't fall until he looks down and reacts. Bretton Woods fixed the dollar at $35 to an ounce of gold from 1944 to 1971, when Nixon took that run off the cliff. Gold's now in the high $1200's, but are we looking down and gulping yet? ;-)
To quote the lyrics of an old song by Steve Miller, “Your cash ain’t nothing but trash!”
The title of this thread, and the previous mention of Sauter interested me here, prompting a reply.
One should always be wary on hearing the words investment and piano used together. In reality one should consider the dollar inflation (or deflation) rate, and also it's affect on other world currencies, especially if purchasing a European piano.
Fwiw I purchased my 'dream' piano - a new Sauter 122 MasterClass a little over 10 years ago in Europe/euros for the equivalent of US$18700 after having negotiated a fair discount. (At that time the dollar was very high against the euro, now it's far lower, that same amount now would equate to US$14200 at the present rate of exchange). I note that for the 2009/10 period the piano blue book MSRP showed the precise same model in polished ebony at over 40k US. I assume now it would be closer to 50k, although I wouldn't be as presumptuous to suggest that such a price is truly warranted however fine these pianos are.
Whatever, at the same time we also purchased our 'dream' retirement property, and now some 10 years later the same property would have approx the same value as we paid then, such is the general situation in the housing market in most of France with the exception of similar desirable properties in the center of notable major cities, i.e. Paris.
The point I'm trying to make here is that neither our house nor the piano were purchased with investment in mind, but the reality is that if I wished to sell the Sauter here (heaven forbid) I believe I could more than recoup my initial purchase price + some, which I think would barely be the case with the house. The fact is for overseas buyers (especially dollar based) there are bargains abound in the property market, and perhaps also for professional/performance grade european pianos.
As for myself I hope I can remain settled here, and still playing the same fine piano for years to come.
I guess, if it's not an investment, it's a liability.

So my YAMAHA UX cost me $70/year capital (not including services etc). And worth every penny in enjoyment and usefulness.
And was valued at worth $2800 (2008 currency).

Assuming I play till I'm 85 - my Mum played till 87 when she had a major stroke - will have cost me $3500 per year - and worth every dollar in enjoyment and usefulness.
And it'll still have value in my Estate.
Yes but a lovely Sauter is never liability. Wonderful pianos on Craigslist in Vancouver eventually dissappear. Even Unicorns in Canada can be sold for good price if you wait long enough.
Pianos are just not easy to sell unless it's a Yamaha U1 or a Steinways grand ! These are oh so well known brand names even
Canadians know them !
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